Elephant Heads Cane

One of the characters in my romance book is Aunt E. She is a wonderful, sweet lady, who only wants the best for her nephews and niece. She is so proud of her brother’s children – her nephews and niece, and has done everything to support them. After her brother’s death, she has done her best in filling the gaping hole that the mother created in all of their lives.

Aunt E. was gifted by her nephew Q., an incredibly beautiful elephants head walking cane. This turns out to be one of her favorite gifts ever received, and she walks around with it, to this day. The wooden cane is so detailed, that you can even feel the folds of the eyelids that cover the soft warm eyes of the majestic animal. Aunt E. cherishes the elephants head walking cane. And in the past century, it has brought her a lot of stability.

Animals and their heads were popular choices for walking canes. Check this photo I took at Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad, India. You could personalize them to add a small thin sword as an insert to the cane. Some of the heads could actually move! A popular trick to bring laughter and smiles to the eternally grumpy and stuffy elite. Check out this donkey head below, it’s ears can move if you click a particular button on the cane. Cool huh? If you ever get a chance, visit the museum. It is one of the most well-preserved private collections of a family, that India and I dare say, the world has.

Personally, I have always loved such walking sticks with animal heads (wooden). Its almost like having the actual animal next to you. I imagine Aunt E. with an elephant next to her, when she walks and talks. The cane brings gravitas and sheer power through its presence. As Aunt E. holds the cane, she quietly touches the left tusk of the elephant and then the broken right, before she is about to bring bad news. The broken tusk reminds her of the sadness that one’s possessions may bring others. For humans the tusk is a symbol of power, but for the elephant – a necessity. She is also woefully aware of how much words and actions can hurt others and always attempts to do the right thing.

Elephants head cane in ivory – Salar Jung Museum – A private collection of the Nizams of Hyderabad in India.

Aunt E. is so fond of it, that she’s named it Ellie but will never let it slip out in front of others. In her private bedroom, Aunt E. feels comfortable, and frequently converses with sweet and patient Ellie, who unlike her nephews and niece, listens to her with the utmost attention. The only competition to the quiet elephant, is her cat. But… that’s for another day 🙂

Check out the dog with a hat and smoking a cigar!

I do want to mention the following:

I do not condone the use of ivory for anything. Tusks belongs to the animal, not humans. The canes were collected by the Nizams (kings) over the past few centuries.

This was part of the research I completed for adding the elephants head cane and its importance for Aunt E. in the book.

Red Radish Bhaji Recipe

Red Radish Bhaji – North Indian Style

I’ve made this post on red radishes on request by a Facebook follower.  This is an easy way of using radishes and making it last for some time.

Red radish bhaji


  1. 1 large sweet walawala onion or any sweet white onion
  2. 1 tbsp oil
  3. 1 garlic
  4. 1 tbsp roasted cumin powder
  5. 1 tsp roasted chili powder
  6. 1 pinch of turmeric
  7. 1 or 2 medium sized tomatoes , I love tomatoes and tend to add more 🙂
  8. 1 bunch of red radish (with leaves)


Key to recipe: Use the sweetest onion you have to balance the harsh astringent or sometimes bitter taste of radish. If you can’t find sweet wala wala onions or maui onions, use white onions + 1 tsp brown sugar.

  • Dice onions, let it sweat and sweeten. Once they are translucent, add garlic and ingredients through 5
  • Let the masala (the dry spice ingredients) hit the heat. Toast the whole mix. The fragrance of the spices will change, but if you’ve never smelled it then wait for approximately 3 minutes, it will happen. Make sure you keep saute it or the masala will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and salt. Let it meld well.
  • Add chopped red radish and chopped leaves to the mix.
  • Let the full thing cook for approximately 5 minutes.
  • Eat with tortillas or chapati or whatever strikes your fancy

The leaves are optional, but I like to use the entire bunch instead of buying arugula or something else to add greens. Also, they are free with the radish so why not use them?

If you liked the recipe and or tried it, please let me know in a comment below 🙂

Thanks for reading!



The Importance of Informed Consent and Medical Ethics

The following post is on the importance of informed consent and medical ethics using examples from the history of gynecology and a more recent example: Gardasil

Today, we all are aware of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Did you know that there was a time when slaves were used similarly for reproduction and reproductive studies by the ‘Father of Modern Gynecology’?

Don’t believe me?

Read this article which is published by the Journal of Medical Ethics in 2006. The journal article details why the slave women would have had to give some amount of consent as ether anesthesia was not established as a practice during the vesicovaginal fistula operations conducted on these women. This journal article below is a scathing review on Sims’ practice and alleges that he knowingly did not use anesthesia and did not ask for permission from these women. The other two articles are by History.com and the Washington Post on why Sims’ statues have been removed/under attack.

While the two journal articles provide some context, it is still hindsight. So instead imagine this:
If you were kidnapped, stripped of all of your rights as a citizen, and as a human being. You had to do as told, and if this was your entire world and you knew of no other existence. If your captors sold you off to a doctor who promises to take care of you, would you not have gone through with it?
Besides the fact that these women and children were slaves, were not given rights, were illiterate and did not know enough about medical practices, how are we to be positive that they were aware and consented to the gory practices they were subject to?
You might be thinking, sure this sort of nonsense only happened eons ago, it won’t happen today.

Think again!

Below is an example of problematic Informed Consent with the HPV Vaccine Gardasil.

(sources from Nature.com and Sciencemag.org)

Gardasil – the HPV vaccine clinical trials were held in India by US based pharmaceutical companies. Despite having clear obligations and responsibilities outlined for clinical trials have had a lot of issues, including:

  • Failure in obtaining clear, informed consent. (many participants were illiterate and little was done to ensure an adequate provision of explanation).
  • No control group. (Any clinical trial worth its salt will have a control group to support the efficacy claims. Otherwise the claims of success might as well be assigned to random chance, a 50-50% possibility of not getting cervical cancer).
  • No mechanism for reporting adverse effects (this is what lead to many people and news/media outlets claiming that deaths were caused by use of this vaccine).

After the inquiry and media outburst, steps were taken to remedy the issues. The underlying problem although is that these issues should never have occurred, there are clear rules that each clinical trial must adhere to. Please click here to learn about Institutional Review Boards and their function in clinical trials in protecting human rights.

To be clear: The vaccine HAS NOT caused the death of children or women.
Here is an article debunking the entire claim:

I have been a benefactor of this vaccine. I had the opportunity to get the vaccine, and I took it (I didn’t know about the trials at the time and did not have a scientific background to assess the trial information either). I received an education in science from 2012 onward. Death by cervical cancer is horrendous and any chance to lessen that should be taken.

The point of this article is not to degrade the value of vaccines or any medical solution to health problems. The point is, to increase awareness of medical ethics and informed consent.

Gardasil was approved by the FDA in 2006 and has shown good efficacy against cervical cancer (which it does, I do not disagree with that part one bit).  I found this awesome blog post by SkepticalRaptor on the facts and debunking nonsense regarding Gardasil.